That Uruguayans like meat is well known, not just since this World Cup; lesser known is the fact that they have quite a sweet tooth, as the dessert ‘Chajá‘ demonstrates: invented in 1927 by an Uruguayan pastry chef, it consists of layers of sponge, meringue, whipped cream, apricots and – sometimes – dulce de leche, a typical South American concoction of caramelised condensed milk. The perfect dish to represent Uruguay in my World Cup Challenge!
Traditionally, the cake is covered by a layer of cream and crushed meringues, but you could easily serve it up in a glass as a delicious trifle. After trawling the net I decided to go for the most complicated version I came across, in Cristina’s beautiful blog FromBAtoParis, in which she uses strawberries instead of the more common apricots, to stunning effect.
The addition of dulce de leche is highly disputed in Uruguayan circles but I decided to add it simply because it is just too delicious. If you can’t get hold of it don’t worry – the original postre chajá did not use it anyway. You will still be able to get your teeth into a stunning dessert!
Postre Chajá (serves 12-14)
For the sponge, I used half of my butter- and baking powder-free Bisquit recipe. I baked it in small tins but you can also use a 20cm cake tin. Ideally you make the sponge the day before so you can easily cut it into two layers.
For the meringues I used half my meringue recipe – 2 eggs, 100g sugar – piping them into discs to fit into the tins. You need one thin disk to form a layer in your cake as well as enough crumbs to cover the surface.
I used 8 apricots, which I cut into thin wedges. Put them into a sieve on top of a bowl, sugar them and collect the juices.
For the whipped cream I used 400ml whipping cream and 2 tsp vanilla sugar. Whip the cream until it begins to thicken, then add the sugar and beat until it forms soft peaks.
FInally for the syrup, bring 200ml water with 150g sugar to boil, stirring it until the sugar is fully dissolved. Leave to cool and add the apricot juices.
If you are using dulce de leche, you need around 100g.
The layers are assembled as follows:
- Soak one layer of sponge in half the syrup.
- Spread the dulce de leche on the sponge, before you
- top it with the layer of meringue.
- spread the sliced apricots and half the whipped cream on it, then
- add the second layer of sponge, soaked in the rest of the syrup.
- Cover the cake with the rest of the whipped cream, followed by
- meringue crumbs, sprinkled over the cream.
- Decorate with the remaining apricot slices.